April 4th, 2013
Fast food workers across NYC, organized by Fast Food Forward and supported by many pro-labor groups in the city, including Unite NY, MoveOn and Align NY. But it was the courage of low wage workers, recently at Walmart, now at fast food outlets including McDonalds, Wendys and Burger King, who walked off their jobs today demanding a decent starting wage in the $15 range.
As NPR reported towards the end of last year, strikes, once a mainstay of labor's arsenal, were on the rise for the first time since labor came under corporate/government attack in the 1980s.
As corporate profits have risen through the roof, in tandem with outsized CEO pay packages, workers who fuel those gains with their great productivity, have lagged far behind these gains with stagnating and declining paychecks. It is hard to imagine that any logical person thinks it is possible - even for a working student - to make ends meet on $7.25 an hour. Throughout the day random folks interviewed on the street were usually quite supportive, saying that $15 an hour was not too much to pay for standing behind grease laden french fries and burgers for an eight hour plus shift. Those that bought the corporate line that a decent minimum wage would somehow harm these multi billion dollar in profit corporations, felt that though an increase was a good idea, $15 an hour was too rich for such unskilled work.
Nobody asked the follow-up question about how "skilled" those jobs of top management are who rake in the big bucks. Anybody seen Undercover Boss? On that charming show the CEO apparently doesn't know his kitchen workers slave in hot dangerous conditions for minimum wage - a wage so bad that cooks with ten years of experience must take second and third jobs to make ends meet at home. And for this level of brilliance they receive literally millions of dollars from the exploitation of these frontline workers. Then to top it all off - this "brilliant" CEO is made to look thoughtful by dropping $10K to 20K on each of those recently abused employees. No mention is made of the thousands of others not so lucky to be on camera who must still work for the original crap minimum wage. And if they even whisper union? They're out the door in a minute.
Who is kidding who? If the top dogs, just like everywhere else, weren't pigs feeding at the trough, then all the workers down the line, from cooks, to cleaners, to servers could get that $15 and hour wage, serve with dignity, low turnover and everybody would be relatively happy.
But this is America 2013, if somebody at the top isn't crushing somebody at the bottom, then apparently they're being soft on their employees and are open to punishment from Wall Street. Time to Re-Occupy brothers and sisters and teach those manipulators a lesson.
So the fast food workers showed them today and all of us: organize or die. You can force employers to do things if you stand united and stand together and fight back against this ridiculously unequal system,
Hooray for the Fast Food Workers! Hooray for Our Walmart and three cheers for all those organizers and workers out there across the country every day, in tough times, showing us all that it can get done.
Come see some incredible films next month - May 10th through 17th @ Cinema Village and The Brecht Forum.
You'll see that workers around the world are fighting back, organizing and not taking the crap of the corporate ruling class.